Because both for-profit and nonprofit organizations run awareness campaigns, they differ in their objectives. In general, an awareness campaign, as its name implies, is a campaign meant to raise awareness about something that an organization favors.

Awareness can be raised either about a brand to drive sales or raised for a charitable cause. However, even within this broad definition of what constitutes an awareness campaign, such campaigns are designed for several purposes. Both for-profit and nonprofit organizations develop these campaigns with several aims in mind.

Purpose of an Awareness Campaign

The aims of an awareness campaign include reaching out to the public regularly, measuring that outreach accurately, and motivating the public to take action. Campaigns deliver messages to an audience, and organizations measure how many people receive the message.

Organizations focus on delivering the message repeatedly while ensuring it has a broad reach so that many people hear the message. For this reason, the ability to measure reach and frequency are essential to any awareness campaign.

Behind the desire to reach many people is an organization's hope to get its message out. For nonprofit organizations, the message may be to encourage people to take positive actions in support of a cause. For-profit organizations usually try to raise brand awareness in the minds of the public to increase sales. Raising awareness includes not only increasing awareness of the brand but also about increasing trust in the brand and raising that brand's authority.

For businesses, raising brand awareness also means the chance to convert people who see their advertisements from viewers to buyers. As people become more familiar with a brand, they turn to that brand more often, sometimes out of comfort but also out of brand loyalty.

Marketers take advantage of this and use both reach and frequency to raise awareness of a brand and build customer loyalty. Over the long term, this leads to repeat customers and consistent business.

Limits of an Awareness Campaign

At some point, campaigns need to go beyond raising awareness and instead try to get things done. Organizations must realize that there comes a time when they need to stop raising awareness about an issue and instead motivate people to take action about that issue.

Unfortunately, organizations often are trapped in the awareness phase of their campaigns. To avoid this, organizations should plan from the start how they intend to transition away from raising awareness and toward motivating people to act on the message.

One issue that occurs with raising awareness for nonprofits is that there are many worthy causes. From the consequences of unprotected sex to getting people to think more about the environment, media is saturated with messages and attempts to raise awareness about countless causes.

No matter how important an organization thinks a cause is, its message can be lost among many worthy awareness campaigns. This makes it all the more important for organizations to integrate a phase of the campaign during which people are called upon to act.

Without a call to action, a message may never deliver the desired change. In many cases, organizations believe that by simply raising awareness, people will interact with the cause. This isn't the case, so organizations need to call people to action and be specific in how people can act. Successful campaigns direct people to organizations and resources and instruct them on what they can do in response to the campaign.

Awareness Campaigns Are Important

Awareness campaigns are important for different reasons, depending on the nature of an organization. Among for-profit companies that are trying to raise awareness, the increase in brand recognition and loyalty can eventually translate to increased revenues and profits.

An awareness campaign can make a company more competitive and help it stand out among other businesses that are competing in the same industry.

For nonprofits, the awareness campaign is an essential first step at effecting societal change and creating positive shifts in the culture. Awareness campaigns highlight important concerns that people can address in both personal and public ways.

Campaigns that cover personal issues, such as health problems and various diseases, generate money to research solutions to these problems or motivate people to change their lifestyles in an attempt to avoid them entirely. For public causes, such as the environment, awareness campaigns drive people to change how they deal with recyclable materials or participate with local organizations in community cleanup efforts.

An awareness campaign is not only important because it brings attention to a topic. Instead, it is part of a broader strategy designed to motivate people to take action. That action may mean buying something from a particular company or committing time to a nonprofit organization, but in either case, the awareness campaign falls short if it doesn't drive action from the public.

For this reason, successful marketers design these campaigns in tandem with actionable steps they want to motivate the audience to take.

Designing an Awareness Campaign

There are a few best practices that any organization, regardless of whether it is a for-profit or nonprofit organization, should keep in mind during the design of an awareness campaign strategy.

The first step is to identify measurable metrics it intends to meet, which includes measuring the reach and frequency of the campaign. After establishing the parameters for the campaign, organizations should establish a timeline that includes milestones to be met along the way and a final assessment of the campaign made at its conclusion.

Organizations need to be aware of the scope and level of investment and commitment that is necessary to create a successful campaign. Part of fully investing in a campaign includes being aggressive about getting the message out to the public.

Campaigns should be released across the most appropriate channels to contact the intended audiences – not only through traditional channels but also through other forms of communication, such as social media.

Remembering that part of any effective campaign includes getting people to take action, organizations must put calls to action in their campaign materials. Nonprofits need to make a specific effort made to avoid talking too much about the organization and should instead focus on the cause itself.

These are just a few steps that organizations can take to launch successful awareness campaigns.